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to protect American citizens in their areas where I had no means for doing so. Plans made in previous years provided for the evacuation by British Air Force of both British and American nationals and on the present occasion they actually evacuated American women with their own. While my action may have caused the Department some anxiety and even embarrassment, I feel that the circumstances warranted it and that there was no honorable alternative.
British troops numbering less than 1,000 today, June 5, occupied the camp in Baghdad which had previously been prepared for the transit of British troops through Iraq in accordance with the AngloIraq Treaty. The column of British troops en route from Basra will reach here within a week.
It is my considered opinion that most of the Iraqi Army and Iraqi people are anti-British and that if the Germans make an appreciable thrust in this direction the Iraqi Army will arise against the British unless the British maintain here a force adequate to stop a German thrust and at the same time keep Iraqis under control. It appears that the British have arranged for the stationing in Iraq of four divisions. This might prove adequate, but in any case I consider that developing events will create an increasingly dangerous situation for Americans and I am therefore intending to use all my persuasive powers to influence all Americans to leave the country as soon as possible.
The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary
BAGHDAD, November 25, 1941-4 p. m. [Received November 26-11:54 a. m.]
328. Nuri 42 has just published in the local press his letter of December 15th, 1940, to Rashid Ali, translation of which was sent to the Department with my despatch of January 7th, 1941.43 With the letter was published an explanatory statement by Nuri in [apparent omission] case he stresses particularly the desirability of establishing an Iraqi Legation in the United States because, as he states, such representation has been essential for Iraq in consequence of international developments and because of the intermingling of Iraq's political, economic and educational interests with those of the democratic front. He adds that this diplomatic representation will ensure for Iraq the sympathy and support of American public opinion in the efforts that are being made for the solution of national questions particularly
Gen. Nuri as-Said, appointed Prime Minister of Iraq October 9, 1941. Not printed, but for summary, see telegram No. 127, December 29, 1940, 8 p. m., Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. I, p. 725.
the Palestine issue and assures the importation of essential commodities for Iraq. He concludes with the statement that the United States is today a power to be reckoned with in the determination of the fate of the world, both from the material and moral aspects and that its aid to the democracies will be a fundamental factor in the victory of the principles of liberty and that its word will, after the end of the war, be very effective in determining the world order which will be based on the freedom and independence of nations.
The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State
BAGHDAD, November 25, 1941-5 p. m. [Received November 26-5: 37 a. m.]
329. Referring to my 328, November 25, 4 p. m. Subsequently Nuri has told me that he wishes to extend American influence in Iraq itself. He wants, with the consent of the British, American headmasters in secondary schools instead of British and he wishes to create a chiefly volunteer mechanized division with American equipment and American instructors. This would be a contravention of the Anglo-Iraq treaty and in my opinion we should not agree to it unless or even if the British were to agree. I gather that the British have agreed to a mechanized Iraqi division but with the delivery of equipment thereof unduly delayed. The British have also agreed to assign the Iraq Army for protection a certain section of their northeastern frontier. Nuri is showing signs of still wishing to press for a Palestinian settlement without waiting until end of war. This will tend to keep anti-British feeling alive and may lead to further difficulties. KNABENSHUE
REPRESENTATIONS TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT REGARDING UNWARRANTED INTERFERENCE WITH AMERICAN INTERESTS IN NEUTRAL LIBERIA
740.00112 European War 1939/2545: Telegram
The Minister in Liberia (Walton) to the Secretary of State
MONROVIA, April 16, 1941-1 p. m. [Received 2: 45 p. m.]
33. British Chargé d'Affaires 1 has recommended that Bank of Monrovia and United States Trading Company be put on statutory list. Reasons given to Firestone representatives are (1) in March United States Trading Company sold merchandise valued at 19 pounds sterling to P. C. Parker, a Liberian. Delivery was made c. o. d. through Bank of Monrovia; (2) that Liberian facilitated P. C. Parker obtaining goods shipped via Barber Line by delivery documents and collecting payment in Monrovia.
Bank claims shipments were made in good faith by American firms after obtaining navicerts in New York and the Bank was acting as agent of shipper.
Firestone subsidiaries assert if they do not deal with Liberians they are acting in contravention of Liberia's neutrality proclamation. In recent weeks the attitude of British representative toward American concerns has been increasingly unfriendly and dictatorial.
Today after its refusing navicert for gold shipment to the United States the British Legation finally issued one at bank manager's insistence.
I recommend that the Department confer with the British Government with a view to clarifying what is becoming a delicate and serious situation to both American and Liberian interests.
740.00112 European War 1939/2631
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Villard)
[WASHINGTON,] April 21, 1941.
Mr. Calvert called at my request in regard to the apparent difficulties in Liberia between the Bank of Monrovia and the British
1 Augustus C. Routh.
A. S. Calvert, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
Chargé d'Affaires, as described in telegram no. 33 of April 16, 1 p. m., from the Legation at Monrovia. I explained to Mr. Calvert that, according to our information, the British Chargé d'Affaires had recommended that the Bank of Monrovia and the United States Trading Company, which were subsidiaries of the Firestone Plantations, should be put on the statutory list because the Trading Company had sold merchandise worth nineteen pounds sterling to a Liberian named P. C. Parker. The bank had facilitated the shipment and delivery of documents and had thus been placed in the same category as the Trading Company.
Having previously inquired of Mr. Walter F. Walker, Liberian Consul General in New York, as to his knowledge of Mr. P. C. Parker, I told Mr. Calvert that Parker was a small merchant who had possibly permitted the use of his name as a blind for German trading firms in Monrovia. However, according to the Bank of Monrovia's statement, the shipment in question had been given a navicert by British officials in New York, and both the bank and the Trading Company were therefore acting in good faith when they accepted and sold the goods. I pointed out also that the bank and company were neutral concerns operating in a neutral country and that attempts of this kind on the part of the British to dominate or dictate transactions in Liberia were naturally resented. I explained that we had received no word from the Firestone organization on this subject, but that, in view of the importance of this American interest, as well as the difficult economic position in which Liberia found itself as a result of the war, we were naturally disposed to take an interest in these developments.
I also described to Mr. Calvert the information we had received some months ago to the effect that the British Chargé had demanded that the Bank of Monrovia cease handling the accounts of German firms or nationals. I said that, while I understood the matter had been locally settled, the attitude displayed by the British Chargé had caused great surprise. In this connection, I went on to say that we had received word from several sources that the particular individual now in charge of the British Legation in Monrovia was tactless, to say the least, and that his assignment to that post had not been welcomed by the Liberians. I further cited the statement in the telegram from Monrovia under discussion that the British Legation had declined to issue a navicert for a gold shipment to the United States and had only agreed to do so upon the insistence of the bank management, which apparently constituted another example of the difficulties between the Legation and the bank.
I said I hoped the British Government would do what it could to restore better relations between the Firestone officials in Liberia and the British Legation. I said that, in view of the very small trade
which might still be left to the Germans in Liberia, the attitude adopted by the British Chargé seemed to be causing a great deal more trouble and ill feeling than it was worth. If the Legation could approach the matter in a more reasonable and friendly spirit, it seemed to me that the Firestone subsidiaries would be inclined to give consideration to British policy, in as much as this policy, in the long run, coincided with our own. At present, however, I could see that the British Legation's attitude was causing considerable ill feeling and that the Chargé d'Affaires seemed to be exceeding his authority.
Mr. Calvert said that he would be very glad to look into the situation at once and that he would let us know promptly as soon as he had anything to report.
740.00112 European War 1939/2639 : Telegram
The Minister in Liberia (Walton) to the Secretary of State
MONROVIA, April 30, 1941-10 a. m. [Received May 1-2:45 p. m.]
38. Firestone Plantations Company General Manager in second request for navicert for gasoline-kerosene shipment from Lagos, informed British representative investigation discloses charge that subsidiaries trade with German firms an exaggeration based on misinformation. British Chargé d'Affaires in a letter recommending blacklist referred further to American Minister storing cement in Azormann warehouse and has made disparaging remarks thereto. Cement landed during a heavy rainfall. Accommodations first requested of Paterson Zochonis. Bank manager unfairly accused of being proGerman for neutral stand.
To suppress enemy trade it is not necessary that Chargé d'Affaires adopt dictatorial methods, strangle Liberian trade and cripple American shipping. William Dennis, most potential Liberian competitor and dealing in American products, sent a $6,000 order to New York in September. British stopped delivery. Navicert policy chiefly responsible for decrease in 1941 customs revenues. English and German firms continue to transact business. Syrian companies, acting as agents of former, compelled to take orders from British Chargé d'Affaires; reports discussed with them subject of blacklisting subsidiaries. Last week he publicly boasted to other nationals of his actions against bank and United States Trading Company.
Please advise if it is the prerogative of other Legations to issue instructions peremptorily to American nationals regarding their affairs without the knowledge of the American Legation.
Only intervention of our Government will put an end to an intolerable situation needlessly occasioned.